Around the Valley: First responder discount, free tax filing

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Rabbit tests positive for contagious bacterial disease

The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management Division of Agriculture and the Rhode Island Department of Health are notifying the public about a New England cottontail rabbit from Patience Island that tested positive for tularemia recently.

Located off the northwest coast of Prudence Island in Portsmouth, Patience Island is currently home to a New England cottontail rabbit population, a candidate species for Federal Endangered Species protection. These rabbits on Patience Island have been used as a source for stocking rabbits throughout their historic range from Maine south to New York. As part of this large-scale regional effort DEM staff annually trap rabbits to move to areas throughout the region to bolster declining populations. All rabbits trapped on Patience Island are given a general health evaluation.

On January 27, a male rabbit was captured on Patience Island to be part of a restoration. This rabbit died on February 3, in captivity while being prepared for release. The rabbit was necropsied on February 4, and a positive test for tularemia was returned.

Tularemia, or rabbit fever, is a highly contagious infectious bacteria that affects humans, pets, and a wide range of wildlife species, especially rabbits, squirrels, and other rodents. It is spread by biting flies, mosquitoes, ticks, as well as contact with infected animals. Tularemia can also be spread through inhalation or ingestion of bacteria particles, and as few as 10 to 50 particles can cause an infection. Tularemia is not known to be spread person to person. Tularemia is rare and only one human case has been reported in Rhode Island since 2008. Symptoms include fever, skin ulcers and enlargement of lymph nodes. Tularemia is a treatable infection; however, if left untreated it can be fatal to humans, pets, and wildlife.

DEM is warning people to avoid being bitten by insects or any contact with wildlife while on Patience Island. Ticks that transmit tularemia to humans include the dog tick, the wood tick, and the lone star tick. Other transmission routes include deer fly bite, inhalation, ingestion, and through skin contact with infected animals. To ensure optimal protection, people should use insect repellent and wear personal protective equipment, including long sleeves and pants, as well as face and eye protection.

OSJL offers first responder discount

Ocean State Job Lot will offer a 25 percent discount for first responders and public safety professionals from Thursday, March 18 through Wednesday, March 24 during First Responder Discount Week.

The discount applies to almost everything in any Ocean State Job Lot store.

For more information on this program, visit: https://www.oceanstatejoblot.com/first-responder-discount-week.

The 25 percent discount is available to first responders, both current and retired, with a valid professional ID,

Free File

Many taxpayers this season can file their federal and Rhode Island personal
income-tax returns online, at no charge, by using the Free File program available on the Rhode Island Division of Taxation website.

To use the Free File program, go to the Rhode Island Division of Taxation’s Free File webpage and review the free offers displayed on that page from five brand-name online tax providers to see the ones for which you may be eligible.

The federal and Rhode Island tax-filing seasons are now officially open. Therefore, if you are eligible for Free File, you can now prepare and electronically file your own federal and Rhode Island personal income tax returns at no charge through the Division of Taxation’s website.

“Free File online products offer free federal and Rhode Island tax return preparation, free e-filing, and free direct deposit of refunds to ensure that you get your money faster,” said Rhode Island Tax Administrator Neena Savage. “We encourage do-it-yourself taxpayers to visit our website
and check to see if they’re eligible for any of the Free File offers,” she said.

To see if you may qualify, read each Free File offer for full details.

DEM offers virtual training on safe cleaning and disinfecting

The Department of Environmental Management, in partnership with the Rhode Island Committee on Occupational Safety and Health and Northeast Waste Management Officials Association, has embarked on a project to encourage a green cleaning and disinfecting approach throughout the janitorial and housekeeping community and schools in Rhode Island and Southeastern New England. This project has been funded by an Environmental Protection Agency Pollution Prevention Grant that focuses on chemical safety, toxics use reduction, and worker safety. The project includes a series of virtual training sessions on safe cleaning and disinfecting practices, with the first program scheduled on April 29.

The initiative is designed to increase public awareness of the hazards of conventional cleaning chemicals and disinfecting products. Many cleaning and disinfecting products on the market today use chemicals such as bleach, phenols, and quaternary ammonium compounds that can adversely impact human and environmental health. Participants in the training sessions will learn why certain cleaners and disinfectants may present health and indoor air quality hazards, and the steps they can take to control or eliminate them by changing their approach to cleaning and disinfecting and switching to green cleaning products. The sessions will include tips on how to be safe when using cleaning and disinfecting chemicals and how to substitute conventional chemicals with sustainable choices listed in the US Environmental Protection Agency’s Safer Choice program. The most effective method of hazard control is to substitute a less hazardous material for a hazardous one. The program also advocates for the implementation of policies that initiate company- or institution-wide changes to switch to safer chemical use.

The Safer Cleaning and Disinfecting Training Session will be held Thursday, April 29 from 10 to 11:30 a.m. To register visit  https://register.gotowebinar.com/rt/1851072219343535119

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